Our first weeks in Tucson seemed like never-ending shopping trips. We were trying to furnish our house and we quickly signed ourselves up for some DIY projects like building a bed and shortening the legs of our counter-height table, which meant we were buying power tools in addition to furniture, dishes, groceries, and other miscellany.
It was hot. Like unbelievably hot. I walked out of my sister’s house in Mesa one day when it was 117 degrees and I felt like I had just opened the oven door. A hot wind in my face. It was so nice to have a place to stay when we got here though. A sister with a guest room and a swimming pool was just the best thing we could have asked for. But we had also booked our townhouse just a week or two before we arrived. That was a little terrifying since I had never seen the place before, but the whole move became easier because we had an address: getting drivers licenses, car insurance, voter registration; changing our address with all the various organizations that need to know where we are. Everything turned out to be a breeze.
Furnishing the house was a little harder than we expected, though. This was the third (or fourth?) time we’ve moved to a new place without any furniture and we’re usually pretty good at snagging things for free or cheap. In the past, we’ve been able to find things that look pretty nice, but not so nice that we’ll miss them when we leave them behind (ok not entirely true. I truly loved a lot of the furnishings we left in Boston). But even in the birthplace of Freecycle, the free market is pretty sparse here. And if you want used stuff for sale–even lousy looking used stuff–its selling for much more than I’m used to paying.
One of the first things we bought was a piano. The unfortunate seller said he would deliver it himself for an extra $35 dollars. I thought he was crazy, and I think he did regret it afterward, but a deal is a deal! The funniest part was when he finally got it in the door and realized he forgot the bench. Oy.
But all this running around and shopping in the city called for a few excursions. I’m not sure where this hike was, exactly, but a couple of the pictures are from the parking lot at Sabino Canyon.
As I said in my last post, we returned from England to Calgary right in the middle of Stampede. The Calgary Stampede is the largest rodeo in the world and the whole city goes all out. There was a cowboy band at the airport that serenaded us as we waited at the luggage carousel. All the bus drivers wear cowboy hats. Hay bales are basically everywhere downtown. And “business casual” suddenly becomes plaid shirts, jeans, belt buckles, and cowboy boots.
Since E was born around Stampede time last year, I didn’t get to go, so this year we were determined to make it happy. The free family day was the day after we arrived, and we had to get there before 9am or something in order to get in for free. We thought this might be a crazy idea because we might be jetlagging and unsettled, but it actually worked out alright.
We got to watch a few races, some acrobatics, but mostly we looked at the animals in the expo center. E was intimidated by the horses and cows, but the races and the chicks were a big hit.
But this first day back in Calgary was also the first day of our next wild ride. We had one week to finish packing, selling as much of our stuff as we could, and moving out of the city. We stayed in Penticton for one week before catching a plane to our new home in Tucson, Arizona.
Our stay in Penticton was a lovely time with lots of visiting parents, grandparents, and friends, paddle boarding, swimming, and some much-needed relaxation. M has all the pictures from that trip on his phone, which brings me to a question: how do you store your photos? I’m trying to navigate the best way to get photos from my camera, my phone, and my husband’s phone all in one place. If you have advice, do tell.
It’s called the Jurassic Coast because it’s been a hotbed for fossil finding, and I was lucky enough to find a few fossils along the way! At least I think they were fossils. So for our grand finale, here are the shots from the most breathtaking hike of my life. The colors were so vibrant. The hills were so steep. The chase was so real.
We had a series of busses to catch, and if we missed that first bus, we missed our nonrefundable flight home. Thankfully my memory card was already full. I had been frantically deleting pictures to free up a little space for snapshots of the hike, so my capacity was really limited. Otherwise, I’m sure there would have been hundreds of pictures and we would have missed our bus for sure.
Not long after Lulworth Cove, E started fussing and I said we might need to stop and let her out for a while. M said we’ll break at the top of the hill, so I fed her a few morsels of bread to tie her over. By the time we got to the top of the hill she was asleep. So we moved right along! We skipped the picnic lunch that we packed and just kept going. Hill after hill.
It was much steeper than we were expecting. Just up and down rolling hills over sharp white cliffs. Stop for a photo op at the Durdle Door. More up and down. Stop and say hi to the sheep. Every once in a while I would stop and call out, “Don’t forget to look behind you!” because it was just as beautiful in front as it was behind.
We were really racing at the end to get to the bus stop, and we made it with 15 minutes to spare! So we had a sandwich and headed back to town, and then took the train to London.
But fate wouldn’t let us make it to the airport quite so smoothly. We waited on the corner for the EasyBus to take us to Gatwick, and when it pulled up the driver said we couldn’t take a baby without a car seat. We argued and argued, saying we’ve looked up the law and it’s not required on a bus in England. We said we’ve been on half a dozen busses with her and no one batted an eye. We said we even took her the EasyBus two weeks ago and no one cared. But he wouldn’t have it. No bus ride. No refund.
We turned around and bought some train tickets. The train is much more expensive, but it’s also faster, so we took advantage of the situation and lingered in London for a few more minutes. We had a bite to eat at the base of London Eye, snapped a couple more pictures, and finally breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to our hotel. Yeah, seriously, we slept in a hotel one night. Of course we made sure it was one with a full English breakfast before our early morning flight back to Calgary, where Stampede was in full swing.
Our Sunday began with a brisk walk to church. The bus would have been a reasonable option, as it was a few miles to hike, but we seem to do things the hard way. As we expected, we got a lot of attention, being the visitors in a small branch. In fact, someone mentioned us in his testimony. He had seen us walking up the hill and holding hands, and it made an impression on him as being kind to each other, but then he was surprised to see us show up in his own congregation.
We had decided Sunday would be a good day to hike the white cliffs. This was the primary reason for our trip to Weymouth. However, the hike is a short drive out of town, and on Saturday night, we realized the bus we needed doesn’t run on Sundays anymore. We weren’t sure if it would be possible to do the hike on Monday, but it seemed unlikely because we had to be back in town by early afternoon to catch our train to London, so we could catch our plane home.
To make a long story short, we found a way to make it work Monday morning, but it was definitely cutting it close. With a little free time Sunday evening, we decided to walk to the cliffs from town. So we just started walking to see how far we could get.
It was my absolute favorite weather. Heavy overcast skies, with a couple of pockets of sunshine that make the green earth look so vibrant against the gray sky. The rain only threatened a couple times, but the storm cast a full double rainbow. I couldn’t back up enough to capture the whole thing with my camera, but M caught a panorama here with his phone if you want to see it.
Our last few days in England were spent on the Southwest coast, in the seaside town of Weymouth. We kept missing out on good deals when we were trying to book a B&Bs, so finally we found some lodging with a small family through Couchsurfing, again capitalizing on having access to a kitchen in child-friendly housing. We weren’t able to check into the house until the evening, and Weymouth doesn’t have any place to check luggage. Thankfully we packed light, but it was still a heavy load to drag around the town. We found a comfortable spot on the beach, E took a nap, M took a swim–a short swim. The water was quite cold. We had fish and chips with mushy peas. Then, once we dropped off our luggage, we headed back out to get some groceries before the Sabbath, and to chase seagulls on the beach.
After retrieving our luggage from Victoria Station, we headed East to Basingstoke, an old English town east of London where one of M’s legendary mission companions live. Legendary because he is not only taller than M, but he is also Scottish and this was a unique and memorable asset for a missionary in Utah. I had heard many stories about Jamie Cairns and even his wife Lindsay, who was in the picture well before the mission. So this was quite a treat for me to visit the family, hear some mission stories, see some photos and videos of both spiritual and embarrassing moments for my husband in his youth.
The Cairns family let us stay with them for a couple nights. It was E’s birthday when we arrived, but we celebrated the occasion the next day by “strawb’ry pickin'” in the English countryside. She loved it so much that we might make strawberry picking an annual birthday tradition.